Market for wearables is gaining momentum

smartwatch_artShipments of wearable computing devices are expected to more than triple as they become functional, stylish and increasingly popular with the general public.

Leading the way are complex accessories like the Nike + Fuelband and Fitbit fitness and activity monitors that operate when connected to a smartphone, tablet or PC. Research from International Data Corporation says interest in the market for these devices will grow.

Says Ramon Llamas, research manager at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC:

“Complex accessories have succeeded in drawing much-needed interest and attention to a wearables market that has had some difficulty gaining traction. The increased buzz has prompted more vendors to announce their intentions to enter this market. Most importantly, end-users have warmed to their simplicity in terms of design and functionality, making their value easy to understand and use.”

IDC says overall shipments of wearables will exceed 19 million this year, more than triple last year’s sales, and grow to nearly 112 million units by 2018.

Another segment of the market, smart accessories like the Pebble smartwatch, Samsung GALAXY Gear, and Sony SmartWatch that allow users to access third-party apps, is projected to surpass complex accessories by 2018.

The third segment, smart wearables that include Google Glass and function with full autonomy, has yet to reach millions of units shipped, IDC says, and is not expected to reach that point until around 2016. But according to IDC, it is not a question of “if,” but “when” wearables as a whole will extend into the enterprise.